Customizing Survey Methods to the Target Population: Innovative Approaches to Improving Response Rates and Data Quality among Hispanics
Evans, B., Quiroz, R. S., Athey, L. A., McMichael, J. P., & Albright, V. A. (2008, May). Customizing Survey Methods to the Target Population: Innovative Approaches to Improving Response Rates and Data Quality among Hispanics. Presented at AAPOR 2008, New Orleans, LA.
The explosive growth of the Hispanic/Latino US population has an ever-increasing impact on survey estimates. Additionally, new interviewing challenges are encountered when contacting Hispanic populations compared to non-Hispanic populations due to language, cultural, and immigration issues. These concerns necessitate a review of the current survey methods with regard to the Hispanic population. Traditionally in national studies, survey methodology adaptations to accommodate members of the Hispanic/Latino population have been limited to translating an English instrument into Spanish and to employing Spanish-speaking interviewers. Small-scale surveys targeted at Hispanic/Latino areas and populations have been testing innovative approaches to customize standard methodologies in order to achieve higher response rates and data quality. One such survey is the Hispanic/Latino Adult Tobacco Survey (H/L ATS) sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This in person survey collected data from household members in the colonias, unincorporated and often poor areas that house many immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border just outside of El Paso, Texas. This survey faced numerous challenges in achieving quality data and high response rates among Hispanics in a border community. These obstacles included reluctance to participate due to distrust of outsiders, communication barriers due to linguistic differences, the level of education and acculturation of potential respondents, potential respondents’ experience with surveys, and potential fears of participating in a survey in the United States. This paper describes procedures taken to overcome the challenges faced in conducting the H/L ATS study: specialized development of the questionnaire, innovative approaches to interviewer recruitment and training, and methods used to gain the confidence of participants. The paper also presents lessons learned and suggestions of how these methods could be applied to future studies involving Hispanic populations.